Schools in Cambodia closed in March of this year and after a long 6 months wait finally re-opened on 7 September 2020. We wanted to know and hear directly from the students in rural Siem Reap how the school closure has affected them and also what they are looking forward to now that schools are open again.
We spoke with Rady, Kongnov and Somkhann on their first day back at school and noticed a common theme was around online access to virtual learning.
The cumulative effect of slow internet, lack of preparedness for online learning and significantly fewer lessons compared to the usual curriculum means that students will have to work incredibly hard in order to catch up!
Now what about the things to look forward to now that schools are open again?
Rady felt that just by being with her classmates is enough motivation for her to learn better. Kongnov and Somkhann are grateful that they will again be able to discuss with her classmates and teachers the lessons they had.
We certainly wish them an enjoyable and fruitful learning experience in school. Hopefully one of the positives of not being able to go is the appreciation how much social interaction takes place at school besides of course the invaluable learning and setting students up for life to pursue their dreams!
"When life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient" - Steve Maraboli
COVID 19 continues to impact many lives in rural Cambodia.
PeopleStories is grateful to be able to continue to face the challenges together with the students and families who are in urgent need.
Since April, we have gifted 4.4 tonnes of rice, 1,380 eggs, 230 storybooks, 60 packs of school supply, 8 tins of milk powder…and more importantly to show our care to the communities.
Our sincere thanks to all our donors and our passionate volunteers Veasna Chhor, Jeff Ng and Pok Sarith to make this happen, again and again!
We humbly invite you to give us a helping hand to support these children and their families: http://bit.ly/PSF_S4L201920
We at PeopleStories strongly believes in making a real difference for the students and communities we serve. One of the ways how we achieve that is by working very closely with teachers in Cambodia and today we speak with teacher Sarit about the impact of COVID19 on schools and learning in rural Cambodia.
Teacher Sarit works at Ta Ey High School and teaches English for grades 8 and 10. He is a strong believer in education and has been an invaluable supporter of PeopleStories.
Q: How do the teachers monitor the progress of the students?
We meet up with the students with our lessons and exercises. Then we will collect the work at our next meeting. It is not so effective because we are not meeting every day and it is difficult to get all the work back.
Thank you teacher Sarit for sharing this!
It is sometimes easy to forget how relatively easy most of us have it in developed cities and countries and how difficult it is in remote and rural areas when it comes to learning especially during school closures. Full credit to all the teachers trying their very best to visit students and continue learning in small groups without having the benefit of technology or the internet.
We at PeopleStories are working on a solution to start addressing this challenge by taking the first step in mobile learning. Stay tuned and we hope to have some further exciting news soon!
As COVID19 continues to challenge the everyday lives in rural Siem Reap, PeopleStories keeps with up with the care & support where it is most needed.
So far, 3 tones of rice, 170 storybooks, 1,160 eggs plus more have been shared with the vulnerable students and their families.
Our Relief Program wouldn't be possible without the dedicated support from our local team and teachers.
Quality of Education is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the members of the United Nations in 2015 as a blueprint for peace and prosperity for the people and the planet. In recent years, we have witnessed tremendous improvements in the quality of learning and collaboration especially in our modern world.
In many countries, education is a huge business. For example, in Australia, education is it's 3rd largest industry, still growing and estimated to be worth over $33billion by 2025! The EdTech sector just saw Yuanfudao raise $1billion to service its 400m users and they are joining a group of 14 EdTech unicorns valued over $1billion.
With our Khmer For Success literacy program we have identified and started to address exactly this issue. Through accurate student assessment, teachers and schools able to effectively direct their efforts to specifically help those students who need it.
Whilst we do not have the means to install the next 5G network to enable digital education, we strongly believe that our efforts (with your kind support!) are going a long way to start tackling the learning poverty from the ground up with a combination of school infrastructure support, teacher training, student motivation through sports, learning assessments and of course the sponsorship of underprivileged students who will hopefully become role models for their communities of what can be achieved through the power of education!
When we talk about collaborative effort then this also includes you!
Want to help education more inclusive, effective and resistant?
Share your idea with us below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to bring more awareness to this learning crisis we are together facing?
Share this post with your network and have a conversation about what you can do.
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At PeopleStories we are very clear on our purpose and vision. We want to ‘Set positive change in motion’ and see ‘A world where everyone is empowered to shape their own story’. How do we do that? We ‘Create greater access to knowledge for those in need!’.
As the famous quote from Nelson Mandela goes, ‘Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world!’.
One of the most tangible examples of our action is the annual gifting of School for Life scholarships. Just a couple of weeks ago, we held multiple school ceremonies where we celebrated the new school year and inspired (for now) 100 sponsored students to pursue their dreams.
So, does our action help furthering our purpose? Yes, absolutely!
We are changing the world one student, one family, one school and one community at a time. Importantly though, we get everyone involved to grow as individuals as well who accept and understand that they have a choice and that they are able to pursue their dreams!
I am confident that the students we personally witnessed at those ceremonies have taken away a lot more than ‘only’ a bicycle, a uniform and some school supplies.
We, with the help of our very kind donors and supporters, provide the students with ability and with confidence so that our purpose and vision become their own. They know and feel that they are empowered to shape their own story!
With a feet-on-the-ground presence, PeopleStories has been working closely with various schools in rural Cambodia since 2017 and this year we have our first group of scholarship students progressing from secondary school to high school. Such a fantastic milestone to be celebrated!
With this incredible milestone, we took an opportunity to catch up with two of our PeopleStories Scholars who have just graduated from Grade 9 from Chea Smonn Secondary school. They are now getting ready to progress to Grade 10 at a new school, Bakong High School, in November 2019.
First, we spoke with BunSao who is a 16 year old young man. Both of BunSao’s parents are farmers. He also has 5 brothers and 2 sisters. Having 8 children in the family, life hasn’t been as easy for him nor his siblings. In fact, some of his siblings had to quit school and start working at a very young age in order to bring home some extra income.
So you want to be an engineer? Why?
I just think Cambodia needs a lot of engineers. We need many new buildings and construction works to improve our country. If I’m an engineer, I can help my family a lot. Plus, I will be very strong! [laughs]
How has the PeopleStories Scholarship impacted your life?
I have two other sisters in my family and my father is a fisherman. My family is very poor and that’s why my older sister had to quit school to find a job at a very young age. She works as a cashier at a guest house. If I didn’t get the scholarship from PeopleStories, I’d most probably have to find a job to support myself going to school. That would have been very hard, but I have no choice. I’d still do it because I love school so much. [pauses] But I’m thinking, maybe if I had to work and go to school at the same time, I probably wouldn’t have won the Highest Performing Student Award.
Interviewed by: Teacher Song at Chea Smonn Secondary School
Translated by: PeopleStories Team
Family support is the number one factor that determines if a child in Siem Reap stays in school or drops out. This is why here at PeopleStories Foundation, we constantly strive to instill the value of lifelong learning in not only the children, but their parents.
Most of the mothers of these children are homemakers. A majority of these parents had also been brought up by their own homemaker mothers, who instilled in them a strong work ethic. The need for education is not and has never been a priority. Though this mentality is hard to break, we truly believe that we are changing this slowly but surely.
Our Chief Change Maker, Victoria Keeys, had conducted a couple of Parent-Teacher workshops in Siem Reap recently. She gave a speech about the importance of education in helping the children attain a brighter future. She shared with the parents her own story, PeopleStories’ vision for the education system in Siem Reap, as well as the various scholarships available for their children.
Most importantly, Victoria shared the progress of PeopleStories’ Foundation latest initiative, Khmer4Success, which aims to help the children of Siem Reap improve their reading and writing skills in Khmer. The high illiteracy rate was a high contributor to the high school drop out rates as students often felt unworthy of an education. This hands-on learning programme currently has 123 students enrolled and we could already see within the first two weeks the increase in motivation these children had to improve their Khmer literacy skills.
At the end of Victoria’s Parent-Teacher workshops, we managed to get more than a hundred parent signatures as a form of commitment that they will support their children to complete school, instead of getting them to drop out and find work. It was truly an emotional moment. As the parents left their thumbprints on the contract, they realized how it was more than just a piece of paper. It was the start of a different journey for their families. A brighter one.
There are four major elements of School for Life and we at PeopleStories Foundation believe they are crucial in building a culture of lifelong learning for the children of Siem Reap.
The first is the enablement to attend school including a bike for mobility as well as having sufficient school supplies. Then, we focus on better learning environment both physically and in mind through more effective teaching. And lastly, the families support for these children. In our last volunteer trip to Siem Reap, our team of volunteers ensured to further develop these four important elements to help students complete school.
We engaged in a School Refresh project. Our volunteers and team members worked hard to clean and beautify the classrooms and libraries of Chea Smonn Primary and Secondary schools. They bonded with some of the students by putting together a few classroom furniture like tables and bookshelves.
Next, we worked directly with the teachers to enrich the curriculum of these schools by introducing new lessons. A successful example would be how our team conducted engaging music sessions that ended with children and teachers snapping their fingers to the beat of the melody. We also bonded with the teachers outside of school hours by doing house visits and touring around the village leisurely on bicycles.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we made a conscientious effort to get to know the direct families of these children. We organised house visits to have face-to-face conversations with mothers to better understand the home dynamics that might affect the children’s willingness to learn.
At the end of the volunteer trip, we left with our hands full of chalk and dust, our backs weighed by the many hours under the sun, but our hearts full of hope and pride for these children.
If you would like to join our cause and help these children lead a life fueled by education, contact us at email@example.com.
School for Life is to break the cycle of poverty by advancing education for underprivileged students, families and communities in need.
One of the most critical aspects of any educational experience is the quality of teaching and the learning culture promoted.
Today, PeopleStories is proud to share the final key element f School for Life...
“Quality of Learning”
The Cambodian government has brought significant progress in education with great results particularly in primary schools, where enrollments have increased from 83.8% (1992) to 96.4% (2012).
However, the need to improve student learning further is evident! Worldbank’s research in 2010 indicated that 33% of primary school students could not read and 47% of literate students could not comprehend what they read.
School for Life will be enhancing the quality of learning at Chear Smonn School as follows:
-Regular coaching groups to improve academic learning as well as life skills
-Further development of teachers’ skills to strengthen quality of teaching
-Upgrade school facilities to accelerate learning
-Initiate events and activities to build a learning culture
Do you want to help these underprivileged students to gain better learning opportunities?
Email us at contact@PeopleStories.net to lead the change.
To break the cycle of poverty by advancing education for underprivileged students, families and communities in need.